Angry New Jerseyans took to the Internet to voice frustrations over Gov. Chris Christie's mandate that flags be lowered to half-staff today to commemorate the passing of Bruce Springsteen . On various news stories announcing the order, commenters wondered if such a honor was appropriate for the musician or if the governor, a professed Springsteen fan, had gone too far.
The battle cries took on a fever pitch once news broke that Toms River resident, an Army infantryman, had been killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday and had yet to receive the same honor.
Radio station NJ 101.5 took on the debate, asking listeners on their Facebook page, "Does it bother you that the governor has ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff in honor of saxophone player Clarence Clemons, while Army Cpl. James W. Harvey II of Toms River died Monday following a small-arms attack in Afghanistan?"
More than 100 people commented, many calling the governor's actions "inappropriate" and "outrageous."
The Governor called in and stated his case, announcing that Harvey would absolutely receive the same half-staffing honor. We reached out to the governor's office, and spokesperson Michael Drewniak wrote us back:
"Unfortunately, there was a simple misunderstanding by a caller to the radio station of the chain of events. The Governor’s Office received official notice of Sgt. Harvey’s death from the Pentagon last evening at 6:15 p.m. – after the governor had already issued the executive order on Clarence Clemons. Obviously, the governor is always deeply concerned and sensitive to the death of any New Jersey serviceman or woman and the impact on their families, other loved ones and their communities. The Governor’s Office always responds, after receiving official notice, with an executive order by the governor in memory of each of them, as well as with the lowering of flags at all state government buildings. The governor has already or will sign today an executive order in recognition of Sgt. Harvey and his sacrifice for his country, which we will issue as we always do from the press office."
Around 4 p.m. the Governor's Office did just that, bestowing the honor to Harvey for Friday in a press release:
"Executive Order No. 68 - Ordering all State buildings to fly flags at half-staff on Friday, June 24, 2011 to honor the service and sacrifice of United States Army Sergeant James W. Harvey, II, a resident of Toms River, who lost his life serving on active duty in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan."